LIANE HANSEN, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Liane Hansen.
The federal government could start to shutdown this Friday at midnight, that is unless Congress comes up with a stopgap funding measure to replace the current so-called Continuing Resolution that's about to expire. At issue are some sixty billion dollars in spending cuts, approved by the GOP-led House and deemed too deep by the Democratic-led Senate.
House Republicans are now proposing a two-week spending measure; the idea is to buy time to negotiate.
NPR's David Welna has more on the shutdown showdown.
DAVID WELNA: The Continuing Resolution, or CR, that House Republicans passed eight days ago, ended up with nearly twice the spending cuts that GOP leaders had initially proposed. By doubling down, Republicans pleased their conservative base.
But House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer deemed their bill entirely unrealistic.
Representative STENY HOYER (Democrat, Maryland): I think that the United States Senate is not going to pass this bill. I don't think, frankly, any House Republican believes the United States Senate is going to pass this bill.
WELNA: Those nonbelievers seem to include House speaker John Boehner. Before leaving town, Boehner acknowledged things were at an impasse with the Senate and a temporary CR would be needed to keep the government from shutting down.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio, Speaker): But I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels. When we say we're going to cut spending, read my lips: We're going to cut spending.
WELNA: Boehner insists he does not want a shutdown - after all, Republicans got blamed for the last one 15 years ago. But in a conference call this past week with reporters, New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer suggested Boehner can't control his GOP caucus.
Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): He is under intense pressure from the right wing, both outside Washington and inside his caucus. And he's being misled and pushed around by his conservative freshmen, who don't remember what happened in 1995; and not only don't fear a government shutdown, but they actually say they welcome one.
WELNA: Still, by Friday, prospects for at least a short-term extension of federal funding seemed to have improved. House Republicans proposed extending most current funding for another two weeks, while at the same time cutting $4 billion in scheduled spending during that period. The cuts include funds for earmarks that Congress has agreed not to do this year, and for several programs the Obama administration deemed no longer necessary.
Senate Democrats appear ready to agree to such an extension. That leaves the possibility of a shutdown March 18th, if the standoff continues over funding for the rest of the year.
David Welna, NPR News.
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